Last week I wrote about the perceptions of divorced parents and in particular divorced dads and how they’re viewed or judged on a daily basis. As I read the e-mails and comments from readers I started reflecting on the overall view of divorced dads and fathers in general. We’ve all watched commercials on television that depict mom as the hero of the household and dad as the buffoon who doesn’t know dishwashing detergent from laundry soap. We see stories about deadbeat dads on the news and read about infidelity that leads to separation and divorce. It all makes it that much harder for the dads that are there for their kids 24/7 as a positive influence.
Just as a few rotten eggs in the NFL get all of the attention and grab all of the headlines making it difficult for the rest of the players in the league, the abusive husbands and fathers that the media loves to exploit in their attempt to garner advertising dollars, make it nearly impossible for the growing percentage of dads who are not only involved, but carry an ever increasing percentage of weight in the rearing of their children.
So as I read the input I couldn’t help but ask myself, “so what can we do to change the perception of dads both married and single?”
First and foremost I think the number one thing we can do is to continue to step up our game. We can put down the iPhone and help with homework, we can ensure we sit down together at the dinner table, we can coach a soccer team, we can continue to put the needs of our kids first and be involved. We can spot check their texts and hold them accountable for their actions. We can make an effort to listen without judgement. We can remind them over and over again how much we love them and how much we love being their dad. We can do all of these things; consistently and with vigor.
What we need is a to establish a growing portion of the population that grows up with an appreciation for what their fathers did for them when the odds were stacked against them. Sure it would be nice to see more advertising targeting single dads or programs that depict the divorced father in a positive light. But it all starts with us. It all starts with our efforts to provide our children with a foundation of love and support. Of understanding and unconditional love. Of creating a safe home where calm resolve and respect out duals adversity and anger.
Over time, as more and more positive examples of dads are seen by society. As more and more kids grow up with a dad who was there for every recital, who taught them their first guitar chord, who threw a thousand pop flies, showed them how to change a tire, but also made a thousand school lunches, taught them how to find a bargain, live smart, respect people, and do laundry, as more young adults grow up experiencing this dad, there will be a greater chance that we’ll be able to change things for the single dads that will follow,
But don’t do it for the future fathers of generations to come. Do it for your kids. Do it for yourself. Do it for your family. Do it because what’s most important is what your kids think of you and what they’ll remember you for. Do it because you want your grandchildren to have the best mom or dad possible and your daughter-in-law or son-in-law to have the best spouse possible. And that all starts today with the dad you are to your kids. It all starts with the perceptions you create.
Let your kids be the spokespeople for the next generation. Let them create the TV shows about the awesome divorced dad. Or write the commercials targeting dads who shop for Tide. Let your actions today, help change the perceptions of dads for generations to come.